Monday, November 14, 2016

Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat)

Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat)
Have you ever eaten or heard of hákarl or Icelandic fermented shark meat? I was introduced to this Icelandic delicacy by our friends Julia and Andy. Julia visited Iceland for her friend's wedding and returned home with a small container of this exotic meat for us to taste and smell. A small group of us sampled these ammonia smelling meat cubes (outside the house) followed by gulping down several shots of vodka...hoping to mask the smell and prevent any after taste. For some reason no one seemed to be too thrilled for a second bite. Andy and Julia wrapped the container tightly in layers and gave me the rest to take home. I think secretly they were overjoyed to have a recipient for the leftovers. For some people the smell is strong and perhaps even a bit offensive--some have described it as "rotten or gangrenous" meat. When I tasted the meat I realized I ate something similar in my past but I could not put my finger on it. On the drive home I realized during my previous trip back to Vietnam my cousin Khiem made me some dried sting ray. If you like hákarl then you may enjoy my Grilled Dried Sting Ray (or Kho Ca Duoi Nuong). Although the dried sting ray did not have as strong a taste or aroma. My cousin Ngoc made a nice tamarind sauce but omitted the fish sauce. Below is a recipe for the sauce that is inspired by my mother. She thinks the tamarind fish sauce would go well with it. You can dip the meat in the sauce or coat the meat in the sauce and serve it as I did. Although I did not grow up eating either the
hákarl or dried sting ray I did not mind them. I would eat them again if given a chance. Luckily the weather outside is warm so we opened all the windows and doors to air out the smell in our home before we can accept any future guests. Hopefully my neighbors don't call the police because they smelled decomposing flesh!

Below are are few interesting links on hákarl:


Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat) in Tamarind-Fish-Chili-Sauce


About 1/2 cup cubed Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat), roughly 3-oz
1 recipe of Tamarind-Fish-Chili Sauce (see recipe below)


Make the Tamarind-Fish-Chili Sauce and mix in the Hákarl (Icelandic Fermented Shark Meat) until all the meat has been coated. Add more chili pepper if interested.

Tamarind-Fish-Chili Sauce 


About 3 Tbsp water
About 1 Tbsp tamarind pulp
A squirt of chili pepper
About 1/2 tsp fish sauce
About 1/2 tsp brown sugar


Heat water and tamarind pulp in a small pot or pan. Avoid boiling. Mash the pulp gently to remove as much of the tamarind as possible. Strain the liquid and scrape the back of the bottom of a strainer to remove as much tamarind sauce as possible. Return the liquid and tamarind sauce into a clean pan or pot. Add chili pepper, fish sauce and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.


  1. I've Hakarl but n o tamarind, i'm gonna try it with honey, maybe it could be sufficient to mask the awful taste.

    I hope!

  2. It's definitely worth a try! :-)